Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions the Colorado River Flathead Catfish Survey
Conditions in both the Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions of the Colorado River should be perfect to go out and catch some flathead catfish. In May, our Yuma-Region Fisheries Program conducted an annual electrofishing trend survey targeting flathead catfish on the Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions of the Colorado River.
Water temperatures are in the 70s and many fish sampled had fish in their mouths or stomachs — they were actively feeding.
Your chance of catching a trophy-sized flathead is even better at other statewide flathead hot spots like Bartlett Lake in the Tonto National Forest or the Imperial Division of the Colorado River. But the Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions should provide a great opportunity to catch large numbers of fish per trip based on our survey results.
The special electrofishing settings used during these flathead catfish surveys did not immobilize other fish species, so no other species of fish were captured. During these flathead surveys, the electrofishing boat slowly moved along the shoreline continually emitting electricity. A chase boat was employed to capture all stunned fish beyond the reach of the netters on the electrofishing boat.
See a short video illustrating the survey technique used for flathead catfish:
In 27 randomly selected survey stations, a total of 1,190 flathead catfish were collected, weighed and measured. Flathead catfish ranged in size from 2.9 inches to 42.1 inches, with an average length of 12.1 inches.
Weights ranged from 0.01 pounds to 43.3 pounds, with an average weight of 1.2 pounds. The number of fish caught per station this year has been near the average during the past five surveys.
The size structure of the population appears really healthy as well, with a good mix of small, medium and some trophy-sized fish. So we conclude the flathead catfish population of the Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions of the Colorado Rivers appears to be doing extremely well!
Background on Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions
The Palo Verde Division encompasses a 27-mile section of the Colorado River along the Arizona-California border, starting below Palo Verde Dam and ending at Taylor Ferry near the Imperial County, California line.
The Cibola Division of the Colorado River extends for 19 miles along Arizona-California border, below Taylor Ferry near the Imperial County, California line, to Adobe Ruin, near Walter’s Camp.
These divisions of the Colorado River have been highly channelized with a shoreline generally stabilized by large boulders to prevent random meandering. Due to the similarity of the main river channel within the Palo Verde and Cibola Divisions of the Colorado River, the survey data for these divisions are combined.